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This post is overdue by a few weeks (it’s July 22nd, even though I’m dating it the 4th) but it’s something I wanted to make sure I remembered and could share with anyone interested.
It’s said that Jazz was born in America and is enjoyed worldwide, so it was very befitting that the father of jazz, Louis Armstrong, happened to be born on this day – or so that’s what most people believe. From a child, Louis Armstrong had been told by his mother that his birthday was the same day as the country he had been born in. It’s the date associated with his social security number as well as his draft card and other government-issues documents. It wasn’t until scholars found his baptismal papers that it was confirmed that Louis Armstrong was in fact born on August 4, 1901.
That didn’t stop the Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM) from celebrating his birthday in full force on July 4, 2013, however. The LAHM is an organization run by Queens College, CUNY, built to preserve the legacy of Louis Armstrong and the home he shared with his wife Lucille in Corona, Queens, where he spent the last 30 years of his life up until his death on July 6, 1971 just a month shy of his (real) 71st birthday.
The celebration started with a private complimentary luncheon for members and then followed with a concert from the band Bria’s Hot Five which was open to everyone who purchased a ticket. Being a member of the LAHM, but never having visited the house, I was able get access to the backyard (you need to sign up for a tour to see the inside of house) before most were – though it turns out almost everyone who attended has been to the house before. The backyard, which is an entire lot onto itself, had what could be described as a parasol of intertwined branches and leaves. The high trees gave an abundance of shade, which made it more comfortable on such a hot day, though there was unshaded area where you could sit on benches or admire the small pond. There was also a nice outdoor bar, where they served members some southern fixins like collard greens, mac & cheese, rice & beans and corn bread. Not to mention the delicious birthday cake that everyone got a piece of after the show. It was certainly a great day and a great way to celebrate The 4th of July.
PS: If you bring your mouthpiece to the LAHM archives at Queens College, you’ll get the opportunity to play one of Louis’ actual trumpets.
If you still have AOL (like me), or frequent Huffington Post, you might have already read the story on HuffPost’s Weird News about 3D Dildo Print-Outs from 3DEA. Ironically, I hadn’t. So it wasn’t until I came across the pop-up 3D printing store 3DEA on 6th avenue and W 29th St. that I got a chance to see where the future lies for 3D printing. Dildos did not seem to be present (perhaps because they were all sold out, or because this looked to be a family-friendly environment), but I did get to browse and see some other rather interesting things.
To read more about the vendors, such as Ultimaker and ShapeShot (creator of the dildos), take a visit to the shop’s site. 3DEA runs until Dec. 27 and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11a-7p and Sundays from 11a-6p.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been living with my sister and soon-to-be brother in law – by financial, rather than personal, choice. I have my own room and belongings, yet most of my possessions are in storage. And while I recognize how fortunate I am to have a sister who has a home with enough space and amenities to accommodate me tenfold, I can’t help but feel that my life has somewhat been on hold for as long as I’ve been here.
The other day I took a trip to the storage facility where part of my existence has been tucked away since the end of 2010. Sometimes when I visit and see everything that was once at my fingertips stacked high and packed tightly out of my grasp, I dwell over the fact that I’ve missed the enjoyment of so many things I own – books, photos, plates, pillows, etc. This past Saturday, I was there to store some more stuff I no longer had room for at home. And as I do on most occasions, I opened up a few boxes to both reacquaint my mind with those things I had since forgotten, and to evaluate what if anything is no longer worth holding on to.
I rummaged through a bunch of old papers I had saved from past jobs and schools, happily purging things I felt I wouldn’t even remember existed. My eyes perused everything, quickly opening folded papers to check the importance of their contents. After throwing away a small chunk of overstuffed, disorganized folders, I opened one of my many worn out cardboard boxes and came across a piece of white paper haphazardly folded, peeking out from underneath an old DVD/VHS player. Thinking it was nothing, I hastily grabbed and opened it. At the top were the words “La Desiderata” (Latin for “desired things”). As I started to read, I thought about who could have given it to me. I could not recall for certain, but believe it was my old design teacher from the Creative Circus – Sylvia Gaffney. I vaguely remembered her doing so, and it seemed like something she would leave us with upon our departure from school onto our next step in the world of advertising.
La Desiderata is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872–1945). Largely unknown in the author’s lifetime, the text became widely known after its use in a devotional, after subsequently being found at Adlai Stevenson’s deathbed in 1965, and after spoken-word recordings in 1971 and 1972 (Wikipedia). The poem is one that makes you stop what you’re doing and reflect upon your life at that very moment. It forces you to take a step back and put everything, all the your sadness, anxiety, uncertainty and anger, into perspective. On that one sheet of 8.5×11 paper, words served to remind me of the most important and meaningful lessons in life. And now I will safely store it very close by so that my fingertips can once again touch it at a moment’s desire.
Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
I was recently searching through an old box of photos, when I came across the 1982 Atari game manual for E.T. I probably hadn’t seen this since I last played Atari, so it wasn’t only a nice find, but a fun experience to page through the booklet and remind myself of how cool this game was. (continue below)
Unfortunately, the images did little to rekindle my memory. I acknowledged the fact that it has been over 20+ years since I last played an Atari game, yet I could clearly remember the many other Atari games I played as a child and how instant my recognition was of any imagery associated with them. Take for example the games Pitfall, Warlords and, of course, Pacman (shown below). One glimpse of a screen shot from any of these and I’m immediately transported back to the old gray carpeting of my living room, staring up at colored boxes on the T.V., and holding onto that joystick like it was the only thing keeping me alive.
It wasn’t until I googled ‘E.T. Atari’ that I learned why my mind draws a blank on this epic film turned video game. Apparently, it was due to Atari’s unrealistic demands to have the game ready for Christmas, which ultimately led to its demise. Below is an excerpt from Wiki:
“Though 1982 wasn’t a perfect year for Atari. At the end of the year they released E.T., a licensed game of the incredibly popular Spielberg film. The game cost around $125 million to develop, largely due to the licensing costs of the game. The game designer was Howard Scott Warshaw, who had received nothing but praise and adulation for his game Raiders of the Lost Ark.
However, due to the amount of time that negotiations took, Warshaw was left with just 5 weeks to design the game in time for the festive period. The result: one of the worst video games ever made and one of the biggest video game commercial failures of all time. Apparently 1 million of the 5 million cartridges were sold, with rumours of the rest being buried in a New Mexico landfill.
…The result is often cited as one of the worst video games released and was one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming history.“
Google ‘street photography’ and many of the images will be of some place and time in NYC, most of them black & white with some edge of grittiness. Not all of them will be of actual streets, since the term is more correctly used to describe any photography made in public places, such as parks, subways or even shopping malls. But more times than not, they feature people, often candidly, going about their day.
Now Google ‘street photography weegee’ and you’ll not only get photos relating to NYC, but there will inevitably be dead bodies included in the mix.
Weegee, whose real name is Arthur Fellig, was a photographer and photojournalist who popularized flash photography in his method for achieving gritty, high contrast, black and white images. If you were smart enough to purchase the Living Social voucher for the International Center of Photography (ICP), and actually used it, you likely saw the exhibition Weegee: Murder is my Business, which just ended yesterday, September 2nd.
Weegee was dubbed the photographer of Murder Inc. because of his ‘coverage’ of many mafia-related killings during the 1930s and 1940s. In a time when organized crime was at its peak and dead bodies strewn on the sidewalk and rooftop were commonplace, Weegee’s photos portrayed death in a fashion not unlike the way he did life – a candid photo of someone going about their day. Except for these people, their life ended while the day continued on.
While seeing a dead body is something intriguing to many people, what most surprised me about Weegee’s work was how unfazed many bystanders were at the site of a violent death. Kids hanging out the window overlooking a body riddled with bullets, couples posing for their 15 minutes of fame while they stand over a blood stained corpse. Weegee, himself, even said that he took more interest in the living rather than the dead when it came to a documenting a crime scene because of the reaction (or lack thereof) that it evoked in people. What also interested me was his relationship with the police. The level of priority and clearance he was given is something that would never exist today. Because of his close proximity to the police station and his own alarm system, there were times when he would even get to the crime scenes before the cops, and very commonly case the scene and provide to his own conclusion of what happened.
You can find a lot of Weegee’s photos in his book Naked City, though I should warn that some reviews on Amazon claim many of the images from this reproduced work appear to be scanned from the original 1945 version instead of the original images, and that another one Weegee’s New York: Photograpphy 1930-1960 is a better buy because it provides large beautifully printed reproductions on glossy paper. I’m certain, however, that whichever you chose, you’ll get a true depiction of what NYC was really like during the 30s and 40s.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that a new Star Wars movie was on the horizon. It seems that every day or so, I come across something on the web or receive an email about SW news or related creativity. I subscribe to DesignTAXI, a news and editorial site that is updated daily with inspired creativity and innovation. Just looking back to my emails from February, I count about 15 messages related in some way to Star Wars. Most of the articles are pretty enjoyable as it’s interesting to see how someone has yet again reinvented the cult classic. I’ve watched the first 3 movies and can’t remember much of either except the famous scenes that people can recite by heart. Yet, growing up in the 80s, I will always have affection for the trilogy. And so to keep that nostalgia alive, I’ve compiled some of the more enjoyable Star Wars-related pieces that I’ve found from DesignTAXI and elsewhere in the universe. Click on the titles/photos to read the full article.
Throughout our life we encounter things that become part of us forever – a scene burned into our minds, a song which never leaves our ears, words that indefinitely stay on our lips. Erma Bombeck’s retrospective anecdote If I Had My Life to Live Over is precisely that. I first discovered it 14 years ago hung on the wall at my part-time job. I had never heard about it before and didn’t know who the author was, but it immediately made my eyes well up with tears. It seemed apparent that the person writing it had come to the end of their life and was realizing that, over the course of their existence, they made decisions which were now regretted and could never be remedied. Yet, that wasn’t true at all. Erma Bombeck died in 1996 at the age of 69 due to an unsuccessful kidney transplant, years after this was published (Wikipedia). I like to think that her self-awareness at the time this was quoted taught her to live the remaining years of her life to the fullest, and any regrets she had upon passing were consciously and willingly made by her.
If I Had My Life to Live Over was Bombeck’s answer to a question posed to her on December 2, 1979. In her column she wrote “Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything. My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.” (Snopes.com)
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more “I love yous.” More “I’m sorrys.”
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it. Live it and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff.
Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.
In addition, I cannot go without mentioning Nadine Stair, for whom I cannot find any further information other than that, at the age of 85, she gave her own introspective answer to the same question.
If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply I love animals. And when I meet someone who possesses that same compassion, I feel like telling the world about them. A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a co-worker of mine, and she told me a story that I will never forget. When she was 10 years old, while she was in the car with her mother, she saw two dogs run across the street very close to one another other, as though they were tied together. She soon found out that they were – with barbed wire. Seeing this, she jumped out of the [stationary] car, ran over to these two stray dogs, and removed the barbed wire with her bare hands, all while her mother was yelling at her to come back to the car. Another co-worker of mine recently told me a story about how after weeks and weeks of seeing a sick puppy being treated at the vet for Distemper and Parvovirus, she took the dog home to give him the love and personal care he needed to nurse him back to health, only to spend a week with him before he died.
These may not seem like heroic acts in the scheme of things, but to an animal lover like myself, it makes me feel so good to know that there are people out there who love animals as much as I do and will do whatever they can to help make life better for them.
Which brings me to the reason for my post. For the past few months, I have been volunteering at Bobbi & The Strays, a 100% non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization, located in New York – with an adoption center in Queens and a shelter on Long Island.
They rescue stray dogs and cats from the streets, and from situations of abuse and neglect, as well as from “death row” at kill shelters in New York. The organization was started in the summer of 1995, by Roberta “Bobbi” Giordano. Bobbi was driving on a busy street when she saw a car strike a dog and then drive away. She immediately came to the dog’s aid, taking him to a vet for care. Sadly, the dog had a broken back and was unable to be saved. Although Bobbi had always been helping animals, having done her first rescue at the age of nine, it was this experience that was the pivotal one. Soon after, Bobbi quit her job in order to turn her passion for helping animals into a full-time mission. In 1998 she established Bobbi and the Strays.
I discovered this organization with a simple Google search. When I found it, I saw all of the great ways to volunteer on their site. I immediately wanted to become a Bobbi Buddy (ie: people who enjoy the company of a dog but cannot foster or adopt due to time or housing restraints; they take the dog to local parks, beaches, training sessions, etc.) so I quickly called and left a message. To my slight disappointment, I was informed that before I could become a Bobbi Buddy, I needed to go through a dog walking orientation, as well as fulfill hours walking the dogs and learning the ropes at the shelter of how it operates. I realized that, although my desire to immediately become a Buddy couldn’t happen, their rules and protocol were put in place for a reason, and I was more than happy to oblige. With a few months of dog walking on the weekends under my belt, I finally become a Bobbi Buddy to Tasha, an adorable 10 year old black and white beagle who loves to play catch with tennis balls.
Yesterday was my 4th weekend with Tasha. I took her to Gardiner County Park in Bayshore, Long Island, an amazingly beautiful dog-friendly park (not a dog park – there are no unleashed areas). It possesses everything which makes an ideal place for dog owners to go with their pets. It has tons of grassy areas to sit/picnic; both separate no-dogs allowed picnic areas, as well as dog-friendly picnic spots; benches sprinkled throughout, especially by the pond; easy-to-walk trails; a beach; a water pump to clean off; poop bags, garbage pails and restrooms. Not to mention free parking, friendly and considerate pet owners, and a clean environment for everyone. I’m not sure it gets any better than that.
Tasha got some needed exercise and socialization, and I got to spend time dog watching and enjoying the day. Even though it makes me sad knowing that I can’t bring her home for good, giving her the type of day all dogs should have, made me really happy. I try to still make time to walk the other dogs at the shelter, and know that even 1 hour of time makes a big difference. While the dogs do get walks, they’re mostly confined to their kennels/runs. Being able to spend a little time with them outside, one-on-one lets you get a better idea of their personality. And working alongside the staff and other volunteers reinforces the fact that there are people in this world who love animals as much as I do. One person in particular at the shelter, Sonia, the kennel manager, always has a smile on her face. Even when she’s down in the trenches, cleaning the kennels, walking the dogs or feeding them, whether it’s early in the day or late at night, she always greets me with a smile, and expresses her appreciation for the little time I am able to volunteer. She is a real asset to that shelter and I like seeing her when I am there. I do not know all the names of the many volunteers and employees, but the ones I do know (Tracey, Tara, Michelle, Mary and Matt) also make my time there enjoyable and worthwhile.
Tasha is just one of dozens of dogs at the shelter. They also house over a hundred cats, and are constantly caring for any that need medial attention and treatment. Below are just a few of the many animals waiting to be adopted to a forever home, or just looking for someone to spend time with. If you’re interested in volunteering, donating or fostering, you can do so through their website, which is user-friendly and has continuously updated content. A contribution in any form is invaluable to their efforts. And if you are looking to add a dog or cat to your home, PLEASE, consider adoption over purchasing from a store or kennel. Bobbi and the Strays have purebreds, and there are also tons of rescue groups who are trying to find homes for specific purebreds. [Ironically] you can find some listed on the American Kennel Club’s website, and of course using Google.
As a freelancer, or anyone that has to keep time manually, there is one thing I find really annoying about the entire process – tallying up my hours. It seems like such a simple task, which it is, but I often find myself sitting at my desk counting on my fingers, writing down the time I came in and the time I left, accounting for my time out to lunch, and then realizing I made a mistake and having to start all over. In theory, it shouldn’t take much time – it’s simple addition and subtraction, but even that little amount of time frustrates me. I think it’s the AM/PM difference and the .75, .25 and .50 intervals that irk me. So, call me lazy or what have you, but after a few weeks of doing this, I realized that surely someone must have created some type of program that easily calculates lapsed time from AM to PM. I came across a bunch and finally found the most simplest one. The website is called Calculator Soup. The real benefit if having this isn’t that it does all the work for me so I don’t have to think. It helps me double check my calucations so I don’t short myself hours, or claim I worked more than I did.